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British grandmother stabbed to death in her Italian dream home ‘was found in her underwear beside bed and may have been killed in her sleep’: Cops hunt partner, 74, but say ‘there is no smoking gun’


The British grandmother stabbed to death in her Italian dream home was found in her underwear on the floor beside her bed and may have been killed in her sleep, it has been claimed.

Michele Faiers, 66, was discovered lying in a pool of blood in her first-floor bedroom by her friend inside her rural home in Verratti village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy, on Wednesday morning.

The mother-of-two was found on the floor next to her bed, dressed in her underwear and covered by a white sheet, an investigative source told The Times. 

There were no signs of a struggle and police are now investigating whether Michele was killed in her sleep, the source said.

Cops are now hunting Michele’s partner Michael Whitbread, 74, a retired management consultant originally from Torquay, after he allegedly left the scene in the couple’s white Jeep Compass before police could question him.

But investigators said while Mr Whitbread is the prime suspect in Michele’s murder, ‘there is no smoking gun here’.

The couple had been living in the house in the countryside near the commune of Palombara, where 100 British expats live, for the past four years and were described by local residents as ‘very private’. 

‘They had few friends in the village, likely due to the fact that they spoke little English,’ the investigating source said.

Michele Faiers, 66, was discovered lying on her first-floor bedroom in a pool of blood by her friend inside her rural home in Verratti village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy , on Wednesday morning. Police are now hunting her partner Michael Whitbread, 74 (pictured together)

Michele Faiers, 66, was discovered lying on her first-floor bedroom in a pool of blood by her friend inside her rural home in Verratti village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy , on Wednesday morning. Police are now hunting her partner Michael Whitbread, 74 (pictured together)

Colonel Alceo Greco, of Italy's carabinieri police force, said Ms Faiers had probably died at least three days ago and her partner Michael Whitbread (pictured), 74, is the prime suspect

Colonel Alceo Greco, of Italy’s carabinieri police force, said Ms Faiers had probably died at least three days ago and her partner Michael Whitbread (pictured), 74, is the prime suspect 

Michele Faiers, 66, was found lying on her first-floor bedroom in a pool of blood by her friend inside her rural home in a village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy on Wednesday morning. Pictured: A Google Street view of their home

Michele Faiers, 66, was found lying on her first-floor bedroom in a pool of blood by her friend inside her rural home in a village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy on Wednesday morning. Pictured: A Google Street view of their home

Michele, a mother of two daughters, was found by a concerned friend who had travelled from the nearby commune of Palombaro, where 100 British expats live, after they called her yesterday morning but received no response.

Her friend had not heard from her for three days and had become increasingly concerned so decided to check up on her, police said.

Neighbours said they heard her screaming in horror at finding the 66-year-old in a pool of blood on the floor next to her bed and called the police who arrived at the home in the countryside.

Michele was stabbed in the abdomen, though conflicting reports gave differing accounts of how many times she was stabbed and precisely where. 

‘She was found on the floor in her bedroom next to the bed, dressed in underwear and covered in a white sheet,’ an investigative source said. 

‘There was no sign of a struggle and she was possibly stabbed in her sleep but we await the forensic examination to find out more.’ 

Michele was found by police in her first-floor bedroom and the keys to the house were reportedly still in the front door.

Police are now hunting for Mr Whitbread who cops fear could have already fled the country, Colonel Alceo Greco, of Italy’s carabinieri police force, said. 

Medical examiners are also running forensic tests to investigate how long Michele was deceased before she was discovered by her heartbroken friend. It is believed she died on either Saturday or Sunday. 

Michele Faiers (pictured with her partner Michael Whitbread) was found fatally stabbed in her idyllic Italian home on Wednesday

Michele Faiers (pictured with her partner Michael Whitbread) was found fatally stabbed in her idyllic Italian home on Wednesday

Ms Faiers and Mr Whitbread had been living in the house in the countryside near Palombara for the past four years

Ms Faiers and Mr Whitbread had been living in the house in the countryside near Palombara for the past four years 

Locals residents of the village near Casoli described the couple as 'very private'

 Locals residents of the village near Casoli described the couple as ‘very private’

She was found inside her rural home in Verratti village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy, this morning

She was found inside her rural home in Verratti village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy, this morning

Michele made her last post on her Instagram page on October 25, when three pictures of a spectacular sunset taken from the terrace of her house were uploaded.

She captioned it ‘another beautiful sunset’ and among the people who liked it was her partner Mr Whitbread.

Other pictures show the couple enjoying a winter break, skiing in nearby mountains and in one snap she is seen with her daughter Harriet.

The couple also enjoyed several diving holidays together and Mr Whitbread is believed to be an experienced scuba diver. 

A local plumber who the couple employed confirmed the Facebook identities to MailOnline and said: ‘I just can’t believe it. They seemed such a perfect couple. We stayed in touch and would message each other every now and then.

‘I live about 40km away and I heard the news from my friend who lives across the road from Michele and Michael. She was found stabbed and he’s now missing. I’m shocked.

‘The area is full of British people and I have numerous British clients. They employ me to help install boilers and water pipes on their properties.

‘I last saw Michele and Michael a year ago when I came to check the boiler. They had bought some abandoned properties in front of their house and were going to do them up. I just can’t believe it.’

Local prosecutor Mirvana Di Serio was at the scene yesterday and the house, which is on an isolated road in the countryside, was sealed off as police carry out a forensic examination.

Michele was found by police in her first-floor bedroom and the keys to the house were reportedly still in the front door

Michele was found by police in her first-floor bedroom and the keys to the house were reportedly still in the front door

Pictures show the couple enjoying a winter break, skiing in nearby mountains and in one snap she is seen with her daughter Harriet

Pictures show the couple enjoying a winter break, skiing in nearby mountains and in one snap she is seen with her daughter Harriet

A source told MailOnline: ‘The alarm was raised after a friend tried to call her this morning and getting no answer she went to her house.

‘When she got there, she found the woman dead with a stab wound to the stomach and her screams alerted other neighbours and police were called.

‘They kept themselves to themselves mostly but they would be seen every now and then walking their three dogs.

The nearby commune of Palombaro is home to 100 British expats who moved to the area to buy and renovate abandoned farmhouses. 

The wider region of Abruzzo is popular with middle class Britons who have moved there because of the cheap cost of living or have holiday homes there. 

MailOnline has contacted the UK Foreign Office for comment.  



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